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Behind the Bandstand: Jay G. Sims and the Internal Workings of the Sousa Band

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From 1919 to 1932 trombonist, Jay G. Sims, served as the personnel manager for the Sousa Band. The Harry Ransom Center at University of Texas at Austin holds Sim's business correspondences which divulge his crucial role in the band’s operations, shedding light on his contributions to the band's success as a touring group. Notwithstanding so, there is relatively little information about him in the existing scholarship on John Philip Sousa and the Sousa Band. This paper explores Sims’ position as personnel manager for the Sousa Band through an examination of his correspondences. There is particular focus on his day-to-day functions, including his input on hiring decisions and recruitment of members, as well as purchasing of equipment for the band’s performances. Furthermore, Sims’ correspondence offers a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Sousa Band, one of the most famous touring musical groups of the early-twentieth century. By using Sims’ own documents as a primary source, it is possible through letters and invoices, not only to determine the exact nature of Sims’ role within the Sousa Band, but also how his administrative position impacted the band’s operations.


John Philip Sousa, band, 20th century music, Sousa Band, Jay G. Sims

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